Sunday, February 25, 2018

Greetings from Tobago in the Caribbean

Greetings from a little village called Charlottesville on the NW corner of beautiful Tobago island in the Caribbean!

We are soooooo happy to be here after a relatively gruelling passage that ended up taking us 19 days and covered just over 3,000 nautical miles. It's also the longest and most exhausting passage we have done since leaving Madeira Beach, Florida in 2016. But we are now safely anchored in a beautiful bay, and are so looking forward to enjoying the last few months of this epic journey around the world in the paradise that lies between here and home. The last leg of our journey will take us through the beautiful Caribbean and Bahamas before reaching Key West where our inbound wake will cross our outbound wake and we will then have completed our circumnavigation sometime in June 2018 :)

I think the last blog post I did was on day 17 of our passage so I thought I would do a quick update of the last 2 days at sea and our first two days in Tobago.

On day 18 we were finally able to hoist our mainsail again, after sailing on just our jib for at least 4 days straight. The wind had abated to between 15 to 20 knots, but the seas remained pretty confused. At this point we no longer cared that it was still rough seas as we knew we only had to endure the discomfort for two more days :) You could feel the mood on the boat pick up as we got closer and closer to Tobago.

On the final morning of the last day at sea, we had a beautiful sunrise just after 6am local time (GMT -4). It was such a fantastic and gratifying feeling as we sat at the helm station sipping our morning coffee and looked down at the chiropractor and noted we had less than 40 miles to go! The wind had died a bit further down to around 15 knots, so we shook out the last reef in the mainsail and now where sailing under full main and jib for the first time this entire passage :) You could feel Cool Runnings chomping at the bit almost sensing land was just ahead! To crown this off we saw a rainbow ahead of us after a passing squall went buy, and had a couple of small dolphins swim with us for about 30 minutes.

I think we sighted land at about 30 miles out, as the mountains here are fairly high. The frustrating thing was we where now only sailing at about 6 knots, so it took us a long 5 hours to actually reach our anchorage.

We eventually got closer and closer, seeing the lush greenery and hearing tropical birds, and smelling land and the wet rainforest for the first time in 19 days. At about 12.30pm we dropped anchor in the small "Man of War Bay" just off the small remote village of Charlottesville on the NW corner of Tobago. We all breathed a sigh of relief and congratulated and hugged each other....we had made it safely across the Atlantic Ocean and were now in the Caribbean Sea :)

Customs and Immigration were closed for lunch so we decided to give the exterior of Cool Runnings a quick freshwater rinse down as there was salt everywhere!!!!! At around 2pm we launched the dingy and headed to shore to check in. There was still a fairly big residual swell coming into the bay which made landing on the small pier fairly tricky, but we have dealt with worse. We secured the dingy with a stern anchor and walked on land for the first time in nearly 3 weeks.... What a cool feeling :)

We asked someone where Customs was and off we went. It was an easy enough check in procedure. Next up was finding the only ATM in the village to draw out some local TT $'S (Trinidad and Tobago $'S). The Customs guy had told us that the local library had internet (he must know what cruisers need), so after drawing cash we walked across the road and into a beautiful air-conditioned library. We signed up for membership at a cost of TT $25 (about US $5), and with that had access to internet, books and magazines :) We spent the next hour checking our respective email, instagram etc, after last having proper internet on January 6th when we departed Cape Town.

By now we were getting pretty tired and hungry, so left the library and walked down the road parrelel to the bay until we found a small local place to eat. Two Carib beers and drinks for the kids were ordered along with 4 plates of local fish, rice and veggies. Man oh man, that beer and meal went down well!!!!!

By now it was just before 6pm and we were exhausted, so we headed back to the boat. As we approached the back of Cool Runnings we noticed that the cover that conceals the port engine room air intake and air exhaust was cracked and half was completely missing, exposing the big 5 inch diameter engine room ventilation pipes! This explains why on about day 16 we started to have the port side bilge pump activate probably every hour. I am guessing that with all the big waves that were smashing into Cool Runnings, that one of those waves must have cracked this cover that basically shields these pipes from waves, but allows air in. I am guessing that once it cracked following waves eventually ripped it off. From then on waves crashing into that area, would have sent water into these pipes and would then spill into the engine room bilge. As the water likely came in slow enough, it then flowed from the engine room into the main bilge and activated the automatic pump roughly
hour. At least we now know what was causing the bilge pump to activate. This is a custom part I will see if I can get from Lagoon in France, or I can possibly try and get something custom made out of aluminum in Grenada.

Well next stop was bed..... I can tell you that Guds and I fell asleep within minutes of getting back aboard, and had such a solid sleep. The next day we awoke to pouring rain. It rained the entire day, which was fine by us.... We relaxed, read, slept and just chilled out. We had intended to clean and tidy the inside of the boat, but were just too exhausted. :) The boat got a wonderful natural washdown all day from the rain, from top to bottom which was great to get rid of residual salt. Last night we met some fellow cruisers anchored next to us, who came over for sundowners and to say hello.... a German couple, at the beginning part of their circumnavigation aboard a boat called Pico.

Today is another rainy day, which is OK with us.... We are still pretty tired, so the kids are doing school while I am updating the blog, and Guds is organizing the last months of school curriculum. Over the next few days we will explore this small island, only 27 miles long by 5 miles wide, likely by hired car. From the little we have seen it looks beautiful with lush vegetation.

With that I am off to do a few chores such as checking the engines, generator and rig while the kids complete school. All the best to you and thanks for all the well wishes we received along the way. I have said it many times, but thanks for the emails we receive.... it's nice to know people are enjoying following our journey. Drop us a line anytime you want at, but please remember we can't download any attachments or pictures over the Iridium Sattelite phone.

Cheers and all the best from Dave, Guds, Ben and Gaby

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.


  1. Glad you're safe and back on land. Sounds like a gruelling stretch. I've been reading your blog while watching large snowflakes gently float down outside our window. Britain is in the middle of a big arctic freeze. It feels so strange thinking about your very different world. By the way Dave, I knew you were super prepared for all eventualities, but I didn't think it would go as far as taking a chiropractor ;)

    1. Gotta love "auto correct"! Chiropractor = Chartplotter!!!

  2. Ha ha ha ha! Touché, Volker! Welcome back safely onto terra firma - enjoy!